by Suz firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer - Paramount owns the characters. Blah blah.
She waited outside the door to his house, expecting it to open at any moment. Kathryn had no idea what to say when it did. 'Hello' would probably be a good starter.
The door swished open then, which was something of a mixed blessing. It saved her from any more pre-anxiety, but now she had to deal with facing him. Of course, she suspected that he might not be the one to answer the door anyway. After what had happened he might not be in any state to see anyone, he might want to be left alone. Which is why she came.
As it turned out, it *was* him at the door. His eyes were tired and unsurprised, and his hair seemed to be greyer than the last time she had seen him. Was his tattoo fading, or was she just imagining things?
Holding out her hand to him she soon realised how ridiculous that movement was after everything they had been through. Half-way through extending her hand she changed her body position and raised her other arm so she could hold him. As her arms wrapped around him he didn't respond, allowing her to take her own comfort but not keeping any for himself.
The first words to emerge from her mouth were not 'Hi', 'Hello', or 'It's good to see you'. All that escaped was:
It was only after her whispered apology that his arms moved to surround him, that his head rested on her shoulder, that his fingers dug lightly into her sides.
"It's not your fault," he replied as he pulled away to look down at her face.
Her hands moved down to his sides as she moved back slightly. "Well, no," she moved one hand from him to wipe away her tears "but I'm sorry anyway."
Chakotay understood and nodded, before walking back into the house, taking her with him. Kathryn had been here before, celebrating Birthdays, Anniversaries. She still had the distinct image in her mind of Neelix getting drunk at the wedding reception.
There was no confetti or laughter now. "Where is everyone?" Kathryn knew that there would have already been a constant flow of well-wishers and others who didn't want him to be alone.
He shrugged, letting go of her hand. "I sent them away."
Following him into the kitchen, she almost smiled. She'd touched a nerve - he sent the others away but he let her stay - and now he was trying to distance himself. It was a copyrighted Janeway move, she was sure of it, and it was the only one she'd let him get away with. It wouldn't really be a problem anyway. Chakotay wasn't in the habit of lying, even to himself.
Approaching the replicator he ordered two coffees. Trying to add some levity he offered to add some leola root to hers. She offered to place the leola root somewhere rather uncomfortable.
Despite their words the humour was forced and she found it difficult to relax around him. It felt as if she didn't know him anymore, that she didn't know what he was thinking.
It didn't help matters that she kept remembering when they had made love. It had been a long time since they'd hugged, and their physical contact just now had reminded her. She had tried, for a while, to forget about him completely, but the truth was she could never forget someone who had meant so much to her, and still did if in a different way.
Taking the coffee from him she sat down on a stool while he sat on an identical stool on the other side of the counter.
Remaining silent, they studied each other curiously between sips of coffee. Finally he put his cup down on the counter and spoke.
"This is awkward."
Kathryn agreed. "Yes, it is."
"Silly, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is."
"Are you going to say anything else?"
Merely smiling devilishly, she took another sip of her coffee.
Picking up his own cup again, he continued drinking.
It was nearly dark when Kathryn woke to find herself lying on the couch. She vaguely remembered feeling tired earlier but had no recollection of how she had ended up here.
Sitting up slowly with a most unflattering yawn, she decided to go exploring for Chakotay. It was stupid really. She'd come here to comfort him and ended up falling asleep on him. But she felt so tired these days...
Passing keepsakes and momentos, she smiled at the memories of the woman Trisha was. Spunky as hell and absolutely devoted to spirituality. She'd made for an interesting combination. Not to mention an interesting person.
Pausing next to a wooden table, Kathryn ran her fingers lightly over a 'family' photo and almost started crying again. Shaking her head, she quickly walked away.
After searching through roughly eighty per cent of the house, she began to suspect that perhaps Chakotay had left. Her suspicions were proven wrong when she reached the room at the back of the house.
Of course. Of course. It was so obvious. She should have come to this room first.
Standing in the doorway, she watched him. His eyes were closed and he sat in a rocking chair that was facing towards the empty cot. He wasn't asleep; she could tell by the way he was breathing.
Walking silently into the room, she stopped behind his chair with her back to him as she looked at the view through the window. The sun had just disappeared over the horizon, and a light darkness filled the room.
"Strange, isn't it," he commented "how things didn't work out?"
She studied her barely-visible reflection in the window. "You mean between us?"
The rocking chair creaked.
"Everyone had been encouraging us for years - I think there were more bets on us than there ever were on B'Elanna and Tom - and we finally did...and it was..." he paused "...wonderful. But it didn't work."
Smiling, she looked down at her hands as they clenched together and fought a new battle with the excess moisture in her eyes. "No. It wasn't quite...right." Chuckling, she separated her hands and pressed them against the window. "I think we waited too long."
"So you think that if we'd tried earlier, we-"
"Please, Chakotay. Don't go there. I have. It's not a nice place to visit."
The black humour in his voice was obvious. "Too late for that, I'm afraid. Trisha used to say I think too much."
Her voice was soft. "I loved Trisha. She seemed so wise."
His was quiet. "She was."
The chair creaked again and she turned to see him leaning over the side, holding out a hand to her. Taking it with a smile, she pressed her lips to his knuckles before moving closer to the chair.
Chakotay smiled up at her. "Sit on my lap for old times sake?"
Somehow she managed to laugh and sniff at the same time. "Old times sake? As I recall it didn't happen that often, and when it *did* I weighed less and you were younger."
Mock-rolling his eyes, he grinned at her. That teasing grin she hadn't seen for so long. "Stop quibbling with semantics and get over here."
"Okay, okay," she declared, deliberately making a big deal out of it.
Still grasping his hand, she managed to sit on his lap after a fair amount of trouble. The chair didn't seem to like it, teetering for a moment before groaning ominously.
"Ah you sure this thing won't break?"
His chest vibrated behind her with his silent laughter. "Positive. It was capable of holding all three of us."
The mention of his family unintentionally brought the solemn mood back. Trying to snuggle closer to him, she tried to think of something to say but came up with nothing that hadn't been said before. Instead, she remained quiet.
In the darkness of the room, with the feel of his heart thumping in his chest behind her, Kathryn studied the small cot before her. So small. So. Small.
Another tear worked it's way free, and as if in response, Chakotay pushed his feet on the floor and the chair began to rock.
Smiling, she pulled his hand towards her chest and listened as he began to hum.
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Suz's Voyager Fanfic